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Harley Davidson Sportster vs Softail: Which One to Choose?

The motorcycle has long ceased to be an alternative to a car, and forgotten are the days when this equipment was bought only because there was not enough money for a full-fledged car. Now two-wheeled vehicles, in many cases, can be called wonders of technology, and their cost can be compared to the price of prestigious cars.

American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson produces motorcycles for a variety of purposes. Today we will compare two motorcycles, Sportster and Softail bikes. The Sportster is in the “sport” class, and the Softail is in the “cruiser” class. They have a lot in common but also a lot of differences. About everything in detail further in the article.

Also Read: Harley Davidson Road King vs Street Glide: Which One to Choose

Sportster vs Softail: Comparison Table

EngineRevolution Max 1250T Milwaukee-Eight
Cooling SystemAir-CooledAir-Cooled
Fuel Delivery SystemFuel InjectionFuel Injection
ExhaustChromed, Shorty, and Staggered ExhaustTwo-into-Two
Seat height29,6”26.3”
Weight228 kg330.2 kg
Top Speed120 mph174 mph

Harley Davidson Sportster vs. Softail: Who Is Better?

Some people may prefer the Sportster for its agile handling, while others may prefer the Softail for its more comfortable ride. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide which bike is better for them.

Harley Softail or Sportster: Detailed Comparison

If you are faced with the choice between two models, Sportster and Softail, or are just interested in two-wheelers before buying, you need to familiarize yourself with the main characteristics of these motorcycles. Further in the article about it in more detail.

Also Read: Hardtail vs Softail: Which Motorcycle is Right for You?

Engine and Performance

The Softail engine is a new Milwaukee-Eight® 107 powerful engine that provides plenty of torque. It is a great engine for cruising and touring. If you are looking for a reliable and durable engine for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle, then the Softail engine is a great option.

This type of engine is installed even on the flagship motorcycle Road King. But in the case of the lighter Softail Standart, this engine will allow greater speed.

The new Harley Davidson Sportster S is equipped with the Revolution Max 1250T engine, which is positioned as a version of the 150-horsepower engine from Pan America with a more grassroots character.

Both of these engines produce 127.5Nm of thrust, but the 1250T version has a peak torque of 6000ob/min, that is, 750ob/min lower than the Pan America 1250. The peak power is reached at 7500ob/min, and the cutoff occurs at 9500.

The engine with two overhead camshafts has variable valve timing, a compression ratio of 12:1, four valves per cylinder, and hydraulic compensators, eliminating the need to adjust valve clearances. It is very gratifying that manufacturers are increasingly thinking about the convenience (and cost) of motorcycle maintenance, and now there are large service intervals in the trend, and now there are hydraulic compensators.

Given the curb weight of 227kg, the power of the Harley Sportster S engine should be more than enough for a brisk city ride. Traction on the wheel is transmitted through a conventional clutch, a six-speed transmission, and a belt final drive. Sportster weight is perfectly balanced between power and volume.

Comfort and Ergonomics

A comfortable and ergonomically designed bike is a must for anyone who wants to enjoy their rides. The Softail bike has been designed with both comfort and ergonomics in mind, making it the perfect choice for anyone who wants to get the most out of their rides.

This is one of the most beautiful Harley motorcycles, and this is one of the reasons why SportsterS has been successful in sales. The front part looks amazing, thanks to a massive wide tire (Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series Radials; 160/70 R17), LED headlights, and a raised steering wheel.

As for the side profile, the Sportster S 2022 received a long wide tank with a neatly embossed Harley-Davidson logo. Side mirrors, a massive exhaust system with gold accents, and gold engine components add sportiness. The rear has a neat setup, which is complemented by a 180/70 R16 tire, an LED taillight, and LED indicators.

Technology and Features

The popular Softail bike from Harley-Davidson is now available with even more technology and features. For 2018, the bike comes standard with the new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, which offers more power and torque than the previous generation. The bike also features a new suspension system that provides a smoother ride and improves handling. And for those who want even more out of their Softail, there’s the newly optional Performance Upgrade Kit, which includes a high-flow air intake and exhaust and a performance calibration that boosts power by 10%.

Smart Sportster technologies communicate via a round TFT display that displays the speedometer, gear number, odometer, fuel level, temperature, warning of too low air temperature, warning of the lowered stand, fall warning, power reserve, tachometer, and so on. The display also supports wireless communication with the smartphone, allowing you to control calls, music, and display navigator prompts in conjunction with the HD application on it. In addition, the motorcycle is equipped with a USB-C socket for charging a smartphone on the go.

The Sportster S is equipped with three driving modes: Sports, Road, and Rain, as well as the ability to create custom modes by configuring your own combinations of traction character and engine braking level, as well as the intervention of inclined ABS and inclined traction control


When it comes to motorcycles, there is a wide range of designs and styles to choose from.

The design of a Softail bike combines the best of both worlds when it comes to motorcycles. The bike is designed to provide a comfortable ride while also being able to handle any type of terrain. This motorcycle is equipped with a suspension system that can absorb any bumps in the road, making for a smooth ride. It is also designed with a frame that can withstand any type of abuse, whether it be from the rider or from the terrain.

The Sportster S is a great-looking bike that can turn heads. It is available in various colors, so you can find one that suits your personality. The bike is also very affordable, so it is a great option for anyone on a budget. It is stylish, and it’s affordable, so it’s a great option for anyone who wants to get around in style.

Tires and Brakes

Softail Standart tires:

  • Front – 100/90 R19;
  • Rear – 150/80 R16.

Brakes installed:

  • in front – radially mounted, monoblock, 4-piston caliper;
  • in the rear – floating, piston caliper rear floating single-piston caliper.

Sportster S tires:

  • Front – 160/70 R17;
  • Rear – 180/70 R16.

Brakes installed:

  • in front – radially mounted, monoblock, four-piston caliper;
  • in the rear – floating, single-piston caliper.

Seat and Weight

When choosing a motorcycle, everyone pays attention to appearance and engine performance, but in my opinion, the comfort of landing and sitting is as essential as the maximum speed.

The heavier the bike, the more stable it is in a straight line. The less it gets blown away by the wind in open spaces and by truck airwaves. But all these advantages turn into disadvantages when the speed drops.

The weight of Softail Standart is moderate for this class. But the seat may not be as comfortable for long-distance rides if you are taller than average. After all, the motorcycle was designed for short and dynamic rides over short distances. Therefore, the comfort of the seats goes into the background. This will be especially sensitive for tall people. For them, the seat may not be comfortable.
The entire motorcycle is 642 lb. This is a good value for this class of motorcycle.

If you’re looking for a versatile, comfortable, stylish bike, the Sportster is a great choice. It’s perfect for city riding, commuting, or even light touring. The seat is comfortable and supportive, and the bike is lightweight and easy to maneuver. The Sportster S also comes with a wide range of accessories to customize it to your own personal style.

All Sportster-S is 487 lb. It’s lighter than its competitor, which will have a positive effect on comfort and speed, but you’ll feel less confident on the track.

Fuel Capacity

The question of the capacity of the fuel tank rarely worries those bikers who bought a motorcycle for weekend trips or cruising along the home-work route in 5/2 mode. Those who are ready or at least planning to travel long distances are concerned about the volume of the tank and the corresponding power reserve.

The Softail Standard has a fuel capacity of 3.5 gallons. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s actually more than enough to get you where you’re going. The average rider will get nearly 200 miles per tank, so you can easily take this bike on long trips without worrying about running out of gas

The Sportster S has a fuel capacity of 3.1 gallons. That may not seem like much for a long-distance ride, but it’s enough to get you anywhere within the city. The Sportster S is a great choice for those who need a smaller bike but are still big enough to ride on the open road.

The Price

This is probably one of the most important indicators that people pay attention to more often than the color of the motorcycle.

The cost of motorcycles:

  • Softail Standard – 13 949 $
  • Sportster S – 15 499 $

As you can see, the price difference is relatively small, so you need to clearly figure out for yourself whether it is worth it to overpay.

Similarities and Differences Between Harley Davidson Sportster and Harley Davidson Softail

LENGTH89.4 in.91.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT28.9 in.25.8 in.
GROUND CLEARANCE3.5 in.4.9 in.
TRAIL5.8 in.6.2 in.
WHEELBASE59.8 in.64.2 in.
FRONT TIRES160/70R17 73V100/90B19, 57H, BW
REAR TIRES180/70R16 77V150/80B16, 77H, BW
FUEL CAPACITY3.1 gal.3.5 gal.
WEIGHT487 lb.642 lb.

Is Sportster S Better?

Harley-Davidson Sportster S is one of the most tempting options from the company’s collection, and with the arrival of the 2022 iteration, Harley has taken up the game even more.

Along with a powertrain capable of accelerating a motorcycle to the skies, the 2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S is excellent in braking and handling. In addition, there is also a decent list of driver assistance functions and technologies on board.

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[wpsm_column size=”one-half”][wpsm_pros title=”Positives:”]

  • Design
  • Convenience
  • Price

[/wpsm_pros][/wpsm_column][wpsm_column size=”one-half” position=”last”][wpsm_cons title=”Negatives:”]

  • The characteristics are inferior to more expensive models



Is Softail Better?

Few motorcycles can boast the same level of timeless style as the Harley-Davidson Softail Standard. This bike has been around for decades, and it still looks as good as it did when it was first released. The Softail Standard is a good choice for riders who want a classic look with modern performance. And thanks to its fuel capacity, it can go the distance without needing to stop for a refill.

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[wpsm_column size=”one-half”][wpsm_pros title=”Positives:”]

  • Low fuel consumption
  • Maneuverability
  • Great for beginners

[/wpsm_pros][/wpsm_column][wpsm_column size=”one-half” position=”last”][wpsm_cons title=”Negatives:”]

  • May be inconvenient for long journeys



Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to the most popular questions.

Which is better Sportster or Softail?

There is no clear answer to this question, as it depends on personal preferences. Some people may prefer the Sportster because it is lighter and easier to handle, while others may prefer the Softail because it is more comfortable and has a more traditional look.

Is a Sportster a beginner bike?

Some might say yes because it is a more compact bike, and some might say no because it is a Harley and its weight is not the smallest in its class.

Why is a Harley called a Softail?

The term “Softail” is used to describe a motorcycle with a hidden rear suspension system. The rear shock absorbers are mounted under the seat, out of view. This gives the bike a clean, streamlined look.

Is a Softail a good first bike?

It depends on your personal preferences for a bike. Softails are generally considered more comfortable bikes to ride, so if you’re looking for a bike to cruise around on, a Softail might be a good choice. However, if you want a bike to for a bike to take on longer trips or do some serious riding, you might want to consider a different style of bike.


The Sportster is a smaller motorcycle, which makes it a great choice for beginners or those who are looking for a more nimble ride. It is also less expensive than the Softail, which makes it a good option for budget-minded riders. However, the Softail has a few advantages over the Sportster.

First, the Softail is a bit more comfortable to ride, thanks to its larger size and more cushioned seat. It is also a bit more stable at high speeds, making it a better choice for those who like to go fast. Finally, the Softail has a more traditional look that some riders prefer.

So, which motorcycle is best? It depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a small, less speedy bike that is easy to maneuver, the Sportster is a great choice. If you want a more comfortable ride and a more traditional look, the Softail is a better choice.

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